Finding a balance between food intake, training and busy lives is a difficult challenge for all female endurance runners. However, there are 3 key principals I especially encourage female distance runners to consider in their training diet.
The first is Energy Availability. That is you need to eat enough to ensure sufficient energy availability to meet your training needs. This is obviously more than before you were training!. Training for a ½ Marathon for example is not the time to start a diet or try a fad diet such as low carb, paleo, gluten free, dairy free etc. Insufficient calories or energy intake can result in changes to your metabolic rate, bone health and immune function. Some of the signs of low energy availability are fatigue, irritability, chronic illness, cessation of periods and low bone mineral density.
Calcium is obviously required for normal maintenance and development of bone and teeth. However there is also an increase demand for calcium during higher training loads (as a result of additional losses). Adult females need to consume 1000mg of calcium per day. Teenage females have a higher recommendation at 1000-1300mg per day. Diary such as milk, yoghurt and cheese is a great source of calcium, aim for three serves per day. If you don’t eat dairy at lease check labels for calcium content and where possible choose calcium fortified foods.
Endurance running training results in a higher iron turnover. Iron plays a key role in immune, energy levels and general health status. One of the best sources of iron is red meat (beef, lamb and veal) however chicken and fish do have some iron. There are many vegetarian sources of iron such as eggs, nuts and broccoli however it is less bioavailable in the plant form so more needs to be consumed to meet optimal levels. Eating Vitamin C rich foods such as kiwi, strawberry, capsicum with iron rich foods can increase the body’s uptake of iron. Insufficient iron intake can result in fatigue, low iron stores, iron deficiency or even anaemia.
For more information or advice please make an appointment with Edwina Ekins at the SESMO clinic in Double Bay. Call or SMS Edwina on 0410422981 Clinic 1 Address: Level 1, 451 New South Head Road, Double Bay (next to Double Bay Library)